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Interview with Kerry Postle

Interview with Kerry Postle

Another great interview with Kerry Postle. Within hours of finding out her novel The Artist’s Muse has been featured in Woman’s Weekly, there is an interview with the author on the website Vision and Verse. Carol Ann Kaufmann is the interviewer –

https://visionandverse.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/interview-with-british-author-kerry.html?showComment=1508932575225#c5126957133412504078

 

 

From Teacher to Writer

From Teacher to Writer   by Kerry Postle

Radio interview

The Artist’s Muse Wally Neuzil

Yesterday I gave my first radio interview.  John Darvall interviewed me for BBC Radio Bristol and he asked me about teaching and writing. Very informative , especially for me, as it dawned on me why I wrote The Artist’s Muse and the connection it has to my teaching.

If you want to listen to the interview, here it is –

radio programme

The interview with me starts 2 hours 5 minutes in (after the Michael Jackson track).

 

A life can change in a heart beat.  One moment all is well with the world, and the next, one random act can turn everything  upside down.  Like  getting attacked in the classroom.  I’d turned up at school one sunny Monday morning to do the job I loved. One hour later and I would never be able to see it in the same way again.

How did that happen? I’m still not quite sure.  A new boy had joined us (expelled, I was to find out later, for attacking a student and a teacher – both female –  in another school)  and he took exception to the fact that he wasn’t allowed to use his mobile phone throughout the lesson.

Although his attack on me, both verbal and physical, was brutal, I pitied him. Still do.  I chose not to press charges but he was still expelled.  I never saw him again. I chose to carry on teaching, but it was never the same, despite first counselling, then reducing my hours. The writing was on the whiteboard and it was telling me I had to go. It was only a matter of time before I exited teaching in a secondary school forever. It broke my heart as well as my bank balance.

No job, no money coming in. What was I to do?

For a while, a very long while, I wallowed in self-pity. Destined to wander aimlessly for all time,  I was unable to talk about what had happened to me without bursting into tears. No need to wear a t-shirt with victim printed on it, I was doing a pretty good job of making that apparent  myself. No props required.

Then, one day, I was wandering round a gallery (which a friend had very kindly paid for me to visit) when I knew what I had to do. As I looked around the exhibition I saw rooms full of paintings of the same artist’s model. She was everywhere.  I wanted to find out about her, this woman who had been mistreated by the artist who clearly owed her his reputation by robbing his model of hers.

I therefore decided to give her a voice so that she could fight back, tell her side of the story. I was going to write a novel.  I wanted this artist’s muse  to be written back into history by allowing her  to tell her story (please don’t groan). She would  encounter  obstacles, suffer misogynistic attacks,  feel a victim, but, in the end she would triumph.

I had no idea what I was doing at the time but by writing the story of the artist’s model  I was unwittingly exorcising my own demons. Well, no, it’s true that I’ve never been an artist’s model and I’m certainly not a young girl, but in every other respect the artist’s model and I are like twins separated at birth. It’s now all so clear to me.

And so that’s how life can sometimes work. It throws you lemons and you… You know what I mean.

 

The Artist’s Muse’ by Kerry Postle is published by HQDigital, an imprint of Harpers Collins, available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Artists-Muse-Kerry-Postle-ebook/dp/B06Y5175Z5/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Artists-Muse-Kerry-Postle-ebook/dp/B06Y5175Z5

To find out more about the story, art and historical research go to

The Artist’s Muse blog

 

The Artist’s Muse : Inspiration for a novel

The Artist’s Muse : Inspiration for a novel

The novel The Artist’s Muse by Kerry Postle is set in early 20th century Austria and is a fictional account of the life of Walburga ‘Wally’ Neuzil and her relationships with the artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

Interview with Kerry Postle, author of The Artist’s Muse   by Connie

What inspired you to write the novel The Artist’s Muse?

The early 20th century in general, that most revolutionary of times, for both art and politics, has always fascinated me and after a trip to Vienna I knew that I had to write a novel set in that period in that city. An age and place of supreme cultural importance, where Freud, Klimt, Tito, Stalin, Schiele, Hitler, Mahler and many more angels and devils of European history rubbed shoulders. Sometimes sublime, usually challenging, often inspirational, occasionally rotten.  I had to write about it. And after a visit to the Egon Schiele exhibition at the Leopold Museum in 2015 I knew what to write. The artist’s relationship with his model encapsulated much of this conflicted spirit of the age. It was perfect.

Why did you choose to write The Artist’s Muse from Wally Neuzil’s point of view?

I had Wally as the narrator because I wanted her voice to be the one you heard.  I had no true sense of what she thought, what she felt, as I walked around the Leopold, even though there were so many images of her on the walls. I had to tell her story and that’s why it was important to use her voice : to bring her vividly to life.

Why did you call the novel The Artist’s Muse?

I didn’t. It was the publisher who chose the title. I’d chosen ‘Matter without a Soul’, an Otto Weininger quotation which describes what many people at the time believed women were without men – formless, soulless, mere lumps of flesh waiting for a man to mould them into meaningful shape.  The Artist’s Muse, however, is a far better title as it describes precisely what Wally is. The story illustrates the extent of her influence and how she inspired Schiele to achieve his greatest work as only a great muse can.

I’ve been told that you regard The Artist’s Muse as a feminist novel. Why?

So she doesn’t lead a women’s march. She doesn’t turn into a super woman. However, she does think like a woman who questions the fairness of how she is treated, the inequality between men and women, between different classes of women… She is trapped in the cage society has created for her and she has no way out of it while the world goes on as it does. It is ironic that what does eventually give her the chance to break free is war, which in itself destroys so many lives, making her survival/ victory bitter-sweet.

There’s a lot of art in the novel. Why?

The title is The Artist’s Muse – she inspired so many of the great paintings of some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. She was not only the subject but also the inspiration and not to have made reference to at least a handful of them would have been a grave omission.  The aim of this novel is to weave art and life together and to explore how the former inspired the latter.

Egon Schiele. A great artist?

Yes, undoubtedly. However, he was flawed. Blessed with a precocious artistic talent, he was immature and suffered from the same overbearing hypocrisy of which he accused others.

Why did you end the novel when you did?

It’s true that Wally’s life does not end at the end of the novel. However, without giving away what does happen in her life, I wanted to end the novel on a positive note. She’d had a miserable life until then and I didn’t have the heart to make her experience within the novel unerringly bleak. After all that she’d endured I wanted the novel to end with hope as for me Wally represents all women.

Many readers have commented on your style of writing. It’s clearly worthy of comment. Why do you think that is?

While I was writing The Artist’s Muse I wanted to play with the writing. I read many of my favourite novelists again and used them as guides, inspiration. I hope that the joy that comes from playing with words comes across.

What are you going to write next?

I’m currently working on a novel set in Franco’s Spain, where the human spirit has to battle in order to stay strong in a chaotic world.

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To get your copy of The Artist’s Muse go to  – UK  or –   USA

To find out more about the background go to –  https://theartistsmuseblog.wordpress.com/

A leader to inspire

A leader to inspire

Image result for macron

In these surreal days when ‘The Donald’ is sitting on the throne in the USA and poor Theresa is melting to a gooey, formless mess before our very eyes (with  Andrea Leadsom ready to step into her Russell and Bromley kitten heels at any moment), it’s hard to think of a politician without raising an eyebrow in disbelief so high that my hairline disappears halfway down the back of my head.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard a story about Macron on the radio just now that made me laugh with joy. Not derision.

That’s why I’d like to share it with you.

When he was at school and he didn’t get the part in the play that he’d auditioned for, (no. He didn’t make a play for the drama teacher. Not then),he went off (and this shouldn’t come as a surprise when you think about it) and (yes, you know what’s coming) started his own drama group (see) so that he could perform the part that way.

Genius.

So it might not seem much on the surface of it. I accept that. But a man who doesn’t see obstacles only solutions, well that’s something to celebrate. But even better is the fact that the solutions, when made, seem so obvious. So easy.  But no one else came up with them. They still plugged away, trying to jump through the hoops, little thinking that it might be time for some new hoops.

And that’s what he’s done with En Marche.

Macron. At last. A politician to inspire. Achieving the seemingly impossible and making it seem oh so simple.

And the man can recite Molière.

http://digg.com/video/emmanuel-macron-le-misanthrope

http://digg.com/video/emmanuel-macron-le-misanthrope

What’s not to love?

 

How long does it take to write a historical novel?

How long does it take to write a historical novel?

I tell myself it’s a slow, meandering process, historical novel writing. A coffee here, research, a little bit of novel reading there (for inspiration purposes), research, a bit of wandering round the house (self-imposed isolation is a must), research, some food(you’ve got to have a break), research, some more food, research, perhaps a spot of Netflix, and, if there’s time, more research.

Moliere – always an inspiration
Proust – I owe all my best writing to him
coffee – 1 of many

And that’s on a good day.

So where’s the writing? Where, indeed.

I have now written a novel. A historical novel. And how I ever got round to finishing it is still a mystery when I take a look at my working methods.

I’m not exactly prolific. One novel. Second started. Dread to tell you how long I’ve taken.

I read that Ian Rankin (yes, I know he’s not a historical novelist) can take as little as 27 days to get a first draft down. The bitter failed writer in me sneers when I read that he has a house he can disappear in, cut himself off from all distractions, and just get on with it. Oh, if we all had our own hideaway in the middle of nowhere we’d all be able to do that.

Really?

As I can’t even get to the end of a paragraph (and sometimes it’s far less than that) without rewarding myself with a coffee, another, better part of myself, knows that I’m delusional. Fooling myself.

Especially when I’ve committed myself to self-imposed purda and stopped seeing people just so that I too am distraction-free.

The coffees just keep on coming but the word count crawls along as slowly as ever.

I hate to tell you that getting on with it is not that easy.

memento mori

I read somewhere that many artists and writers like to work with a memento mori to give themselves a kick up the backside – a reminder that life is short and there’s no time to waste.  And so, not to be left out, I considered tracking down a skull for myself in the hope that evidence of my mortality might serve to get me working a little faster.  Unsurprisingly the hunt for a skull took up many useful writing hours.

Then there are the inspirational articles, the how-to books, the courses, following writers on twitter (that took me a while to work out I can tell you). I’ve even adopted the habits of highly successful authors. Many at the same time.  And guess what? Yes. I’ve passed many a happy hour achieving nothing in particular.

And so I just have to face it – I have no choice but to commit words to the page.  One after the other.

That’s going to be my next move. Try writing. Build it up.  Word by word. Sentence by sentence. Paragraph by paragraph. Until I’ve got a chapter. Then another one.  Who knows, as long as I don’t get distracted I might even end up with a book.

Will it be any good?

Now that’s quite a different story.

Oh La La Land: French at Kings Weston House

Oh La La Land: French at Kings Weston House

A little pick me up session for those wanting to speak French in or around the Bristol area

Image result for french flag clip art

You’ve contemplated brushing up your rusty French.  Again.  But you’ve changed your mind  at the last minute. You missed out on the September start.  Then  January came.  And went.  Perhaps you could try again after Easter.  You know you want to do it. So what’s stopping you? Fear of failure? Dry lessons in cold classrooms?  Turning up on your own?  Committing to a series of lessons only to find out you don’t enjoy them?

Well, the highly experienced teachers at Oh la la French might have exactly what you’ve been looking for.  Four extremely accomplished professionals, Sylvia Aldous, Marie-Christine Page, Malorie Newbold and Isabella Morgan have put their creative heads together to offer people who want to speak French  a more immersive experience than the average French lesson. Made up of  interactive activities, games, treasure hunts, singing and more, they’ve come up with a language package that is useful, engaging, active and fun.

An exciting introductory 90 minute session, scheduled for Monday March 13th  at 10.30am,  will give you a lipsmackingly juicy  taste of how you’ll be learning when you sign up for their five week course. You’ll be working in small groups, provided with language support, pronunciation advice, supported through every section of the morning so that by the end of the session you’ll have made  new friends and your  confidence will be on the ceiling. Which is very high. Which brings me to the venue. Which makes me realise that the Oh la la teachers truly have thought of everything.

Image result for kings weston house

Kings Weston House is a special venue and its lovely paintings and grand rooms will be integral to your language learning experience. No looking out through metal framed windows in grey classrooms for you. Rather the whole  process  is to be stimulating, an assault on the senses to excite the mind so that you are receptive to learning. That’s why the Oh la la team have chosen such beautiful surroundings for their new language learning venture.  The very impressive Kings Weston House, designed by Vanbrugh, with exquisite interiors to delight and inspire  enthusiastic language learners offers a unique language learning experience that will provide those fortunate enough to secure a place (numbers are limited to 30) bragging potential for years to come.

Image result for kings weston house

This event promises to be very special. The venue is a real gem as are the teachers. And even on the rainiest of days it would be worth getting over to Kings Weston House to find that crock of French gold at the end of the rainbow…and you could even stay on for lunch.

the taster session is on Monday 13th March, 10.30 – 12, at Kings Weston House, Kings Weston Ln, Bristol BS11 0UR

e-mail ohlalafunwithfrench@gmail.com to reserve your place  as soon as possible as well as for all enquiries

Cocktail Tuesday : Moscow Mule

Cocktail Tuesday : Moscow Mule

If you’re not having a dry January (or perhaps you were but have fallen off the wagon), you might want to cheer yourselves up by with slow ride on a mule, a Moscow Mule.

Over the past few years I have fallen for cocktails in the most head-spinningly giddy of ways.  An as yet never ending source of amusement to me, they have injected a sense of fun and often  lurid colour into my otherwise drab little world.

That’s why, on this most damp and gloomy of Tuesdays, I would like to share a simple-to-make  Moscow Mule  with you to kick back at those January blues.

Here’s how –

Ingredients: lime/lime juice/vodka/ginger beer/ice cubes

Preparation:

  • Add 1 part lime juice to 3 parts vodka (egg cup measure)
  • Dilute with ginger beer (half cup measure)
  • pour into a cocktail glass and add a wedge of lime and ice cubes

    not 1 but 2 Moscow Mules
za zda-ró-vye   To your health!

Food for Friends : Russian

Food for Friends : Russian

Our latest Food for Friends evening was January 7th  and the cuisine was Russian. It turns out that January 7th is Christmas Day in Russia.  (Who knew?  Obviously not me. ) So that meant that we were able to prolong the Christmas revelry, which we did, kicking the night off with a Moscow Mule.

We then had some pagach, a bread served with honey then chopped garlic. It’s traditionally the first thing eaten after the fast on Christmas Eve. The honey represents the sweetness of life, while the garlic represents its bitterness.

A type of porridge, called sochivo or kutya, consisting of grains, poppy seeds and (again) honey (where the grains represent hope, the poppy seeds peace and the honey sweetness again)  is then usually brought out. However, we forewent that pleasure and went for borscht instead.

Borscht, a beetroot soup served with soured cream and a sprig of dill, was worth serving for the colour alone.

We had this with vodka which went surprisingly well.

Then came the main course. Goose with soured cream sauce is popular on Christmas Day in Russia but the thought of cooking a big bird so soon after the turkey of a few weeks ago did not appeal. Instead we had a Russian stroganoff, beetroot, cabbage pie and spatzle.

 

The cabbage pie was a revelation, tasting as it did like a frittata. We then had to stop for a break, a Russian cocktail break, this time a White Russian.

Feeling a little full we listened to some rousing Russian music to give us strength for the dessert.

And then it came.

I was expecting some kozulya, biscuits in the shape of reindeer, goats or sheep, as these are very popular at Christmas time in Russia. But no, instead we were presented with not one, not two, but three Russian sweet treats – a honey cake, another honey cake and a fruity little number accompanied with a sweet syrupy juice (to put down the layers of fat no doubt needed to cope with the extremes of those Siberian winters).

a trio of desserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished the evening with a warming vodka shot before smashing our glasses in the fireplace and making our way home…or is that a national stereotype for another country?

Recipes to follow.

 

Music

http://christmas.lovetoknow.com/Russian_Christmas_Carols

dress

                                                  Russian peasant-lookLena Hoschek F/W 2013, Berlin Fashion Week:

 

 

 

here are a few of my favourite things

Here are a few of my favourite things … to moan about!

First off, new phrases. One moment no one’s saying them (never mind understanding what they mean), the next they’re being used by virtually everyone. All of the time. Sounds like a good thing? Well let’s see.

Culprit number 1 : ‘Back in the day’

What?

Seems to refer to some non-specific period in the speaker’s  past when everything was possibly better. Or possibly not. Though, grudgingly, could be said to be useful for those of us who have trouble remembering dates…

Culprit number 2 : ‘Happy days’

(uncannily similar to culprit number 1)

What’s wrong with that?

When I first heard this I confess to having found it  really quite charming. Full of joyful enthusiasm. Sort of catchy. So ‘sort of catchy’ in fact that I found it escaping from my mouth all too readily. Soon sounded rather simple.

Culprit number 3 : ‘Mac and  Cheese’

Odd to find it here you may think, but think again. When I first heard this I thought it had to be something far more mysterious, more exotic, than ‘macaroni cheese’. Even now I wonder whether I’ve got this one completely wrong. But I don’t think so. It is ‘macaroni cheese’. I’ve googled it (!). That dish that we had as kids when we’d run out of everything else. Suddenly it’s everyone’s favourite, and even my own kids bandy its name around as if they loved it ‘back in the day’. But they must have been chowing down on it at some other family’s table because they certainly didn’t have it at mine. I don’t know why but it sounds as if it belongs to the same family of words such as ‘dude. Or ‘bro’. (Which makes me think of ‘bromance’. And ‘Brovember’. And…Stop me. Stop me now.)

Culprit number 4 : ‘enjoy’

Now this is an old one. The first time it irritated me was back in the late 1980’s. Now I’ve got nothing against the sentiment. Please, do enjoy yourself. But just ‘enjoy’? It used to be so cool it made me want to stick my fingers down my throat. But I’ve grown up now. And calmed down. And whereas I can forgive, I can never forget.

Although I’m trying to distance myself from the times that I’ve succumbed to ‘enjoy’s easy charms myself. But it never did make me sound cool. More a people-pleasing, crowd-following twerp with no resolve. Damn.

Culprit number 5 : ‘fess up

So, time to ‘fess up myself. I cringe as I admit that I’ve used this one. More than once. How did it’s annoyingly catchy sound get so hardwired into my brain that I found myself reproducing it? Against my better judgement?

(For those of you who may still be ‘fess up’ virgins it’s simply a contraction of ‘confess’ + ‘own up’ = ”fess up’. Sorry to have corrupted you.)

Culprit number 6:

and this is the one, my nec plus ultra  (at the moment, at any rate) of irritating phrases. Wait for it –

‘First World problems’.

 

Though on first hearing it this one bowled me over.

Not least because I’ve come up with my fair share of moans deserving of such an epithet (is that even the right word? Please feel free to help me out here.)

‘I’ve not managed to get fresh clams for tonight’s spaghetti alle vongole.’ ‘I missed the last episode of War and Peace.’ Sadly both mine. I was nearly reduced to tears by one of them.

So, the reason I hate this phrase is that I’ve started to use it after nearly most things I say. And so have many of my First World chums. Instead of making us reflect on more serious problems it’s just served to give us a chummy, back-slapping out.

When I used it after ‘Waitrose has run out of hazelnut croissants!’   I realised I had a problem.

But here endeth the rant. For now.

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Proust Book Group Meeting

Proust Book Group Meeting

Not everyone made it to this meeting and so we used it as an excuse (opportunity?) to focus on the just start of the second part of ‘A l’Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs’.

Key Observations

  • the narrator’s focus on the blue of the blind at the window of the train carriage. Significance – to underline the importance of what we see ( in this case the colour) as opposed to what we know we see ( it is a blind).
  • the importance of light and its impact on what we see. As seen in the changing impressions of the same scene as observed through the train window as the train follows its winding track. Same scene, different perspective. Affected by time, light, distance.
  • the relevance of these visual experiences become clear when the narrator describes what he sees through his hotel window. eg he describes the sea as a mountain, the crests of its waves as snow.

Proust here makes the distinction between intelligence and intuition/ sensory response.  He reveals to us his developing aesthetic – that to touch the truth, create art, he needs to respond to the impression, to be faithful to what he sees, rather than to allow what he knows to come between its expression.  (cf. voluntary and involuntary memory)

To place this in a historical context, these ideas are clearly connected to those of the Impressionists.

We are told that the artist Elstir, even before he is introduced,  will have a significant influence on the narrator’s artistic evolution.

It is also aesthetically important that Baudelaire is mentioned here.  Baudelaire’s use of synaesthesia within some of his poems has a definite correlation to Proust’s use of metonymy here. To taste the smell of a rose is akin to seeing the mountain in the sea.

further points for discussion

  • humour. Now we’ve spotted it we see it everywhere. Perhaps the narrator’s grandiose claims and anguished exclamations are intended to express genuine pathos, but we can’t help but hear a self-conscious, self-mocking bathos – the voice of a wiser, more knowing older self who is prepared to elicit humour out of his more naive younger self, even in his most despairing of moments.  Waiting at the train station; seeing the milk girl; drinking the alcohol.

By concentrating on such a small section we managed to talk about the writing in detail. It really is a joy to be able to read ‘A la Recherche’ in this way and to see how much we’ve still got left to read makes my heart soar as it means we’ve got so much more to explore.

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NEXT MEETING : Friday 5th February

TARGET : To finish reading the 2nd part of ‘A l’Ombre des Jeunes Filles…’ or, at least, try to.

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